WSW: U.S. Senate Candidate Sandy Pensler Promises To "Put Michigan First"

May 7, 2018

Sandy Pensler
Credit Gordon Evans / WMUK

Sandy Pensler says he draws inspiration for his campaign from a Bible passage “feed the hungry and clothe the naked.” But one of two Republicans running for U.S. Senate in Michigan says he believes the best way to do that is by creating jobs.


Pensler grew up in Detroit. After law school, he was a clerk for a federal judge. Pensler was doing turn around work on Wall Street, when he decided to turn around companies for himself. Pensler says the first four years of Pensler Capital were tough, but eventually the company thrived. He says now it’s time to give something back. Penslar says if elected to the United State Senate, he will always put Michigan’s interests “first and foremost.” Pensler is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate and the right to challenge Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow in November.

Trade

Pensler says he is in favor of free trade, but it must include fair reciprocal conditions. He says there is currently not an even balance. Pensler says there is some potential for “short-term” pain as countries respond to President Trump’s call for tariffs on some goods. But Pensler says the United States has greater leverage to get favorable trade agreements.

Great Lakes

President Trump called for eliminating funding for Great Lakes restoration programs. Pensler who describes himself as a “Trump Republican” says “nobody’s perfect.” He calls that a mistake by the President. Pensler says he disagrees with Stabenow on the Paris Climate Accord, and says money spent on helping other countries to reduce carbon emissions should be spent at home on things like Great Lakes programs.

Guns

Pensler says the Second Amendment allows people to have guns in case there was a break down in constitutional government. He many people can’t imagine that scenario. Pensler says the Second Amendment is what makes it unimaginable. He says the Supreme Court’s rulings on guns make those in “common use” legal. Pensler says the focus should be on creating safety for citizens, rather than taking away guns.

Abortion

The other Republican running for U.S. Senate in Michigan, John James, has won the backing of Right to Life of Michigan. That’s considered a key endorsement in a Republican primary. Pensler says he’s pro-life, although he acknowledges that he did not hold that view when he ran for Congress in the 1990’s. Pensler says his position changed after his children, now 20 and 14 were born. Pensler says he doesn’t think the government should prohibit abortion in case of rape and incest, but says he doesn’t know if that influenced Right to Life’s decision.

Discussion of other issues can be heard in the extended web version of the interview.

Education

Calling education important for creating good jobs, Pensler says it’s an area where Michigan has been falling behind. He says that needs to change that for growth in the state. Pensler says teachers have to be paid with incentives based on performance. He says there should be competition in education to create pressure for schools to improve.

Immigration

Pensler says he supports President Trump’s stance on immigration. He says the U.S. should focus on bringing in entrepreneurs and people with unique skill sets. He says there should be limits on other people coming into the country. Pensler says he favors building a wall on the border with Mexico to prevent people from coming in over the southern border.

Syria

Pensler says the limited airstrikes ordered by President Trump have sent a message that the United States won’t tolerate the use of chemical weapons. Pensler says the U.S. can’t solve all atrocities, but also can’t turn a blind eye. He says there should not be an expansion beyond current troop levels, but he says it would be a mistake to pull out all troops. Pensler says he doesn’t think that the action taken so far requires Congressional approval, but he says the President should ask Congress if a more sustained effort is planned.

Campaign

Although he still has to win the Republican primary, Pensler says he can make a strong challenge to Senator Debbie Stabenow in November. Pensler says the three-term Democrat held a major advantage in money in her re-election campaigns in 2006 and 2012. Pensler who put $5-million of his own money into his campaign, says he will add to that. Pensler says that will allow him to hold Stabenow accountable for her record. Pensler says he can add to the Trump base that provided a narrow win for Michigan’s electoral votes in 2016.